Hey Big Daddy,
Who do you have in the NCAA Tournament this year? Have you filled out your bracket?
There are certain annual traditions not to be missed, and this week was one of my favorites. This week brought us the annual Stumble of the Legislators, which people in other towns fondly refer to as St. Patrick’s Day, comes to mind.
Now, far be it from me to name names, but I’m guessing that the state-sponsored private taxicab service known as the Senate and Assembly sergeants were plenty busy last night. At least I hope they were.
I’m big on tradition, especially in this era of term limits and eroding social mores. I believe that the State of the State address is an important ritual. I believe in the last-minute, end-of-session deal. And, yes filling out my NCAA bracket. And while my heart is still rooting for my alma matter, USC, my head is telling me otherwise.
One thing that is becoming an Assembly tradition that I can frankly do without is the barrage of motions and resolutions that seem to occupy our time. If they’re simply eating up a little space in between bill deadlines, that’s all fine and dandy. But when you get events like this week, where a debate on a meaningless resolution becomes a sign of weak legislative leadership, then you’ve got a problem.
For those of you who actually have a life and weren’t following the blow-by-blow, it all started with a resolution by Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee to celebrate March 10 as “Dalai Lama and Tibet Awareness Day.”
Simple enough, right?
The short answer is No. What ensued was a sideshow worthy of the Coney Island boardwalk. After some letter-writing from the Chinese government, Democrats got a little antsy about the resolution, and tried to move it back to the Rules Committee where it could die an ignoble death.
So far, so good.
The problem was, when the speaker led the charge to have the measure moved back to committee, she couldn’t get 41 votes.
Now, I get it. For a liberal Democrat, being caught between the Dalai Lama and the Assembly Speaker is like a child being caught between squabbling parents. But when the Speaker had to call a two-hour-caucus to deal with this issue, it just seemed to highlight the absurdity of what we call the legislative process. Not to mention the fact that it didn’t do much for her standing in the Weekly Legislative Leader Power Rankings.
I understand there is a time for arm-twisting. But do you really want to spend your political capital trying to bottle up a non-binding resolution about the Dalai Lama? Is that what it’s come to?
I admired the speaker for delivering the state budget. Compared to the shenanigans in the Senate, the Assembly ran like it used to, like clockwork. But now, just weeks after the budget deal was done, we seem to have regressed into playground politics.
Watching the maneuvering and politicking in the Assembly this week, it seemed like we had fallen back into some bad habits. It harkened back to a time when UCLA actually had decent basketball teams and could make a real run in the NCAA tournament – an unpleasant memory for all red-blooded Californians.
Here’s hoping that those days can once again be put behind us, and fast.